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Abstract

Theories of knowledge reuse posit two distinct processes: reuse for replication and reuse for innovation. We identify another distinct process, reuse for customization. Reuse for customization is a process in which designers manipulate the parameters of metamodels to produce models that fulfill their personal needs. We test hypotheses about reuse for customization in Thingiverse, a community of designers that shares files for three-dimensional printing. 3D metamodels are reused more often than the 3D models they generate. The reuse of metamodels is amplified when the metamodels are created by designers with greater community experience. Metamodels make the community’s design knowledge available for reuse for customization—or further extension of the metamodels, a kind of reuse for innovation.

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